I’m hyper-flexible. When I told one of my clients this, she responded, “Of course you are, Monica. You’re always willing to go with last-minute changes and work around stuff that comes up for me. Mommy, isn’t Monica hyper-flexible?” This cracked me up because what I actually meant was that my joints are hyper-mobile and so I can bend and stretch in ways most people can’t. However in life, when it comes to plans where I may be looking forward to something, I still have to practice flexibility. Especially with things outside of my control, like the weather. The beauty of practicing flexibility (because, Lord knows, I’m not a master of it) is that often I end up being surprised by the most magical, most touching experiences. Although I sometimes forget it, this truth is so consistent in my life that I should just expect it.
Yesterday was one of those days.
My plans for the 30 Days of 30:
1) Pick strawberries with a friend
2) Clean my house
3) Naptime (I’d slept less than 5 hours the night before)
How many of those did I complete? Zero.
Actual 30 Days of 30 yesterday:
1) Lunch & movie with same friend
2) Pride parade with my mom http://www.capitalpride.org/
3) Epsom salt bath
Because of the rain, our strawberry picking plans were tabled. Instead, Megan and I grabbed lunch and went to see Now You See Me, a caper movie with some intriguing plot turns and one of my favorite lines ever: “Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see.”
My dad was a magician and also created magic tricks for other magicians; I learned a lot about magic, growing up. Magicians play off of people’s expectations, kinda like life, where we see what we expect to see: if I expect beautiful, amazing, meaningful days, that’s what I will experience; if I expect someone to be judgmental, than I will hear what they say through that lens; if I expect someone to be compassionate, then when they say something that could be judgmental, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. The movie used people’s expectations to deliver a fun, engaging story.
Megan and I haven’t been able to spend time together in about 2 months and so, while I was disappointed about not picking strawberries, my flexibility muscles only had to practice a little flexing, since I still got to connect and catch up with an old friend. We know each other from my days working at a local parish as a youth minister and I’m grateful that we still journey together even though I’ve now been gone from the parish for more years than I worked there. Megan was my secret squirrel partner-in-crime as I navigated between my theological training/beliefs and what my supervisor seemed to want. She supported me and we grew together.
Pride Parade was another unexpected twist in my day: I’d thought about going earlier in the week, but hadn’t pursued contacting friends that I could attend with. This most likely meant not going, since I didn’t want to go by myself… Until 7 a.m. Saturday morning, when my mom called me and asked if I had found anyone for the parade. We worked out a play it by ear plan since my mom had work all day and I had plans that would go to the afternoon: she would go to her class then go to work, I would hang out with my friend for my 30 days of 30, then I would text her around 3 or 4 and check in to see if she was still up for going into D.C.
In the end, we made it into Dupont (way late) and stood right near where the parade began. The joy and celebration of the people electrified the air and we could feel it in our hands, our faces, our arms. My mom and I sidled up against one of the barriers, tried for our beads, and watched all the participants come through. There was music, dance, color, joy, hospitality—everything that you’d expect at a parade. My favorite moment of hospitality happened just after I snagged some beads off the ground for my mom. I still hadn’t caught any of my own and there were people all around us with tens of strands. This guy next to me (who was there with his girlfriend) had maybe 15 strands around his neck. The next set he caught, he handed over to me. Those were the only beads I got all night, but they were WAY better than catching my own beads.
My mom and I made our way back to the Metro station after the police car at the end of the parade passed us. We waited for the train and chatted. My absolute favorite moment of the day happened while we sat in the metro car. I tried to take my own photo, then my mom took one of me, and then we took several of us. My mom and I don’t have many pictures of us together, and I love how this one captures the joy and the connection of the moment.
My final 30 days of 30 celebration for the day was to take a bath with Epsom salts. It was the icing on a cupcake of a day: I was wiped and I needed to sleep…I may have actually fallen asleep in the bath once or twice or five times. The relaxation of the bath was exactly what my body needed to catapult me into deep sleep for the night.
Flexibility allowed my day to be not what I had planned, but what I needed. It was a good reminder that sometimes what I think I need and what will be incredibly awesome and unexpected aren’t actually the same thing.